“You don’t run against someone. You run your race,” Heather Cordasco, the Republican House of Delegates candidate for District 93, said about challenging incumbent Delegate Mike Mullin in the Nov. 7 election.
Cordasco’s race involves stressing her ties to the community and volunteer experiences as well as focusing on issues related to education, small businesses and transportation. Her resume is extensive, with volunteer and community work experiences that range from the American Red Cross to the New Horizons board to the League of Women Voters to the Federal Bureau of Investigation Citizens’ Academy.
Cordasco said that widespread experience has given her both a broad view of the Commonwealth and a more specific perspective on local communities. Her family has resided on the Peninsula since 1993 and moved to James City County in 2004. It was her four-year term as vice chair of the Williamsburg-James City County School Board from 2012-2015 that inspired her to enter politics.
I discovered while I was on the school board that I had a love for policy, and that policy helps to change a lot of things in our community,” Cordasco said.
“I discovered while I was on the school board that I had a love for policy, and that policy helps to change a lot of things in our community,” Cordasco said. “A lot of the stuff that affects the 93rd district comes from Richmond, and I want to be part of those decisions.”
Cordasco previously ran against and lost to Mike Mullin in the 2016 special election by 2,783 votes. She earned 46.2 percent of the vote. The last Republican to win District 93 was Delegate Mike Watson, who lost the seat to current Virginia Senator Monty Mason ’89 in 2013.
Cordasco praised her campaign team, talking about the team members’ work ethic and dedication to issues that she believes the district cares about. She said she has received support from College of William and Mary students, and her campaign team includes students as well.
Education continues to influence Cordasco’s platform significantly. She wants to ensure that Virginia’s education system guarantees that students will graduate with the tools necessary to find jobs.
“To me, it’s kind of like a three-legged stool,” she said. “You want an educational system that has a lot of option and diversity, certainly two and four-year colleges, but also certifications and trades. We need to teach technical skills that are involved in things like advanced manufacturing and even coding.”
Cordasco also wants to address building and running small businesses with “reasonable” regulations and a tax structure that helps small businesses operate with relative ease. From knocking on doors, she has heard from citizens concerned about how reliant Williamsburg and James City County is on the tourism and service industries.
“They can’t live where they work,” she said. “They also aren’t provided with significant salaries or benefits. We really do need to have some different job options. That’s something that I hear about a lot.”
Another key component of her platform includes improving transportation and transit systems. Cordasco marks the completion of the final 23 miles of the I-64 project as a priority. Another major transportation issue she wants to address is the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel backup; the Federal Highway Administration officially decided in June to expand the HRBT.
Our construction is great, it’s moved along quickly, and it’s good that we got something done, but a lot of neighborhoods that I walk in still have a lot of challenges with overflow from traffic,” Cordasco said.
“Our construction is great, it’s moved along quickly, and it’s good that we got something done, but a lot of neighborhoods that I walk in still have a lot of challenges with overflow from traffic,” Cordasco said.
As a mother of college-aged children, Cordasco shared her concerns about the rising tuition and fees of Virginia public colleges. She graduated with an English degree from Nyack College in New York.
“I’m very concerned with that indebtedness,” Cordasco said. “With the public colleges, that is something that the General Assembly could have some say in.”
Advocating for more options outside of the four-year college track, another focus of her campaign would also reduce student debt and help graduates find jobs more easily after they receive their diplomas or certificates.
Speaking of debt, Cordasco said that she wants to help the financial situation of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. The foundation’s CEO announced this summer that it ended 2016 with more than $300 million of debt and began a comprehensive attempt to reduce costs that included shutting down Kimball Theatre. The College signed a lease with Colonial Williamsburg to operate the theater shortly after that announcement.